Monday, 10 August 2015

Pilot decisions made part two

Now that I’ve figured out that I have enough fuel to get to Edenvale, I need to figure out the routing. It is not the hardest place in the world to get to but there are a few curveballs to deal with.

For a start, I’ve got to negotiate my way out of the Island’s airspace and exit to the north. This requires a small detour through Buttonville’s zone. I’m not too concerned by this; I’m becoming more and more comfortable with dealing with various ATC services. It’s taken me a long time but I’ve gradually come to see them as the human beings they actually are. The intimidation factor is gone.

My plan is to use my IPad and GPS unit for primary navigation, but I’m a little wary. I’ve had issues with the two of them not liking to talk to each other. I know the Bad Elf is functioning just fine, I’d used it for geocaching the week before but Foreflight doesn’t seem to like it, sometimes refusing to track my position. As a backup I carry paper charts with the route marked on it.

As a further “backup” and to be honest a general way of making my life easier, this is a pleasure flight after all, not a Nav exercise, I pick a route which pretty much feature crawls the entire way. I follow the DVP road to Buttonville , once clear of their zone I pick up the 400 highway and follow that to Barrie. From Barrie I anticipate being able to see the airport.

The use of Barrie as a waypoint is a good choice for many reasons, even though it takes me slightly out of my way. It’s a very noticeable town on the edge of the lake, a good visual landmark. It also helps with the next issue I have; negotiating my way through a narrow corridor.

Following the 400 means I have to thread the needle between the controlled airspace of CFB Borden on one side and the Cookstown Parachute drop zone. I should be Ok though if I hug the highway but keep on the west. I’m good. Carrying this all the way to Barrie before I turn to Edenvale means that I won’t inadvertently cut the corner and infringe on Borden.

My final decision is to get flight following.  Sometimes flight following can be a bit of a pain in that they may try to “control” you a little more than you’d like but on this route, they are an extra pair of eyes keeping me out of the danger zone.

Now I have figured out what I’m going to do, now the most nerve wracking part. I’ve got to run it past Bob. Although I’m not expecting an instructional flight here, I just need a qualified pilot in the front seat but we have agreed to meet a few minutes before hand to go through my plan and make sure we are both on the same page.

Post three will follow.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Pilot decisions made part one

I’ve always second guessed my abilities in this regard, always unsure, always seeking a second opinion and probably leaning on Bob and RTH a lot more than I should have in this regard.

Which is why I am inordinately proud of myself at the moment. I managed a flight of (for me) epic planning requirements.

The back story is that my parents are visiting from the UK and I was eager to, well basically show off, and take my parents for a flight. A proper flight to another airport for the proverbial $100 hamburger.

The first snag; for various reasons that I won’t bore you with, I can’t fly PIC at the moment.

The first solution; Bob very kindly agrees to be some “right seat ballast” or my radio monkey as I kept referring to him! Great, but that leads to

Snag two, I’ve got 4 adults in a 172, I'm pushing the payload limits.

OK, let’s crunch the numbers and come up with solution number two. If I get the S model plane, I can carry 24 gallons of fuel.

That’s not ideal but it is doable. I decide on a destination that is about an hour’s flight away. I pick it for various reasons. It has a nice restaurant, I’ve been there before (albeit not as pilot flying), it has ample parking and self-serve fuel available at a reasonable price.

The latter is an important consideration, as although I’m confident that 24 gallons is plenty to get us there with a decent contingency, it certainly isn’t enough to get us back. I’m going to need fuel for sure. This is really the first flight I’ve done where I’ve had to actively make fuel decisions. Normally I fly with full tanks, giving me at least 5 hours in the air. This time I have to think about the “what ifs?” Another factor in my destination choice is that I know there are at least 3 other airports close by, all of them within fuel range and all of them selling 100LL on the minute chance that Edenvale is out.
So now that I’ve figured out the fuel stuff and am happy that I’m not going to be another “too much air in the tanks” casualty, I need to figure out how we are going to get there.

Another post….

Saturday, 8 August 2015

What I signed up for

Today I wandered down to the airport, crossed over using the new pedestrian tunnel (something which cuts about half an hour off of my journey), signed out a plane and did my walkround.

After settling my passengers in, I went through my usual safety spiel (something I no longer feel self-conscious doing) and off we went to Edenvale (CNV8).

An hour’s flight was followed by a leisurely lunch. A quick splash of fuel to get us home and away we went.

The winds aloft minimal, the journey back pretty much the same length as the one there. An approach over the city with a fantastic view of the CN tower and downtown core. Culminating in an uneventful landing and home.

This is what the two and a half years of angst and self-doubt were about. This is what I signed up for.

Who gets to do stuff like this?!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Are you sure that you have a license?

These are not words that any PPL holder wants to hear from any instructor. But unfortunately for me those are the exact words I hear from the guy in the flight suit, frowning over me and the controls.

Luckily I’m in a simulator and my excuse that the F18 I’m currently wrestling with handles a tad differently to my usual Cessna 172 seems fairly valid to me.

I think the instructor is joking……maybe.

Anyways, some context RTH and I were here, sat in reasonably lifelike F18 simulators practicing taking out some targets before we were let loose on each other in a dog fight.

The session itself was a lot of fun, you start with a quick familiarisation session in front of a standard PC, getting used to all the buttons and the general handling of the F18. I quickly realised just how much trouble I was going to be in. Even turning an F18 is all kinds of messed up. You roll until the horizon is now at 90 degrees and then yank back on the stick. A technique that Bob actively discouraged in the cockpit.

In the briefing room itself we are introduced to some advanced combat techniques (like try to keep the enemy in front of you!) and various warning noises you are likely to hear. Stall warnings, missile lock and so on.

Let’s just say I heard most of them, an awful lot.

Stalls are funky, I discovered (purely by sloppy energy management) that an F18, much like a Cessna, will start to fall out of the sky when you pull a steep turn at 50 knots.  Luckily I was at a ridiculous height when this event occurred.  You recover from a stall by afterburner-ing out of that sucker! Again, this combined with sloppy energy management mean that I flew one combat engagement purely on after burner and reached Bingo fuel in about 2 minutes.

Briefing over, we confirm our chosen call signs for this mission. RTH has gone for something relatively benign based on a forum name he uses. I’m cognisant of the fact that everyone who comes in here is probably “Maverick” or some other TopGun character. I mean I can see why and I don’t want to buck the trend or anything here. So I settle on a variation derived from a conversation about only way they could make the much hyped TopGun2 watchable.

I was indeed Zombie Goose for the duration of this mission.

So how did Zombie Goose do?

I won’t lie to you. It wasn’t pretty. RTH managed to get his first kill in while I was still figuring out how to switch my radar on.

Eventually I lost count of how many times he managed to remove me from the sky but I managed to get him a total of 3 times.

Once with missiles, one with guns and once with my wingtip. Okay so technically that last one took me out too! Oh yeah and I managed to G-LOC into the ground at one point as well. Oopsie.

I may not have been great at shooting down planes but I did manage to both shock and awe the mission controllers in other ways though.

Namely by my wide and varied use of ummm, shall we say, more colourful language.

I guess nothing changes.